Vive la revolution!
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Blu-ray Review
Building on its surprisingly strong opening salvo, Catching Fire takes the baton and runs with it.Further developing its established characters, it takes the right road to success with a focus on story rather than just a rehash of the Battle Royale-inspired survival tournament of the title. Of course we know that we’re eventually going to end up on that battlefield, whittling the numbers down one by one, but Catching Fire, cleverly, remains noticeably more focussed on setting the stage for what’s to come; a prelude to war.With a new director on board to take the reins, the narrative dips into some dark places of psychological trauma and PTSD; totalitarian Government and summary execution, as our worthy heroine Katniss is forced to face her worst fears, fake her love to save those close to her, and ultimately fight – this time, not just for her own life, but for the lives of all those living in the 12 Districts. After all, she’s more than just Katniss Everdeen now, more than just a Tribute or a Victor: she’s the one hope for the revolution; she is the Mockingjay.
The character and story development drive Catching Fire and give it the power and presence which its predecessor was striving for, allowing for better characterisations, better performances, more intricate plotting and a more satisfying outcome, as things come to a head and we find ourselves on the brink of revolution. It’s the blessing of the second sequel – your characters and story have been established; all the hard work’s been done, and now all you have to do is run with it. The curse, of course, is that few sequels actually appear to build on the foundation and succeed their predecessors. Catching Fire, however, is one of those rare few.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Blu-ray Picture Quality
Catching Fire ignites Blu-ray will a stunning 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation in dual 1.78:1 and 2.4:1 theatrical widescreen aspect ratios – the former being used for the IMAX-framed Hunger Games sequences, whilst the latter dominates the rest of the film.
Detail is excellent throughout, allowing for superior close-ups, excellent fine object observation, impeccable clothing weave detail and intricate background textures. Any slight, almost imperceptible drop in detail is only as a result of stylistic choices – the intentional desaturation suiting the style of the piece, but coming with some marginal, and wholly acceptable consequences.
Catching Fire ignites Blu-ray with a stunning, demo quality video presentation.
The colour scheme is broad and primary-driven in the Capitol, whilst the satellite Districts look suitably grim and dour – that aforementioned desaturation at work here to limit the breadth of the palette and help deliver the permanent wintery poverty. Skin tones are healthy and vibrant, and black levels are deep and strong, allowing for excellent shadow detail.
DNR is kept at bay, edge enhancement is non-existent, and the image is largely devoid of any digital issues. Overall it is a fantastic video presentation that remains utterly reference quality and certainly of a demo standard.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Blu-ray Sound Quality
As if things couldn’t get any better, the aural accompaniment for Catching Fire is an even more impressive offering than the video; a stunning, perfect mix delivered in lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 flavour.
Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout, dominating the fronts and centre channels where appropriate, although dipping into the surrounds and rears for some of the more crowd-based sequences. The score drives the piece from start to finish, capturing the emotional core, whilst weighing in significantly during the more thrilling action sequences; making the threat seem ever more real.
The audio somehow manages to outdo the video, immersing you utterly in the thrilling world of The Hunger Games.
Effects are myriad, whether they come in the form of bustling atmospherics during the parties – and during the riots – or more immersive work provided as the heat turns up during the Games themselves. Surrounds get a hefty workout and the LFE channel simply never lets up, especially during those latter sequences. This is superior work, reference and demo quality through and through.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Blu-ray ExtrasCatching Fire comes with a fine assortment of extras, split into three key sections – an Audio Commentary; a comprehensive multi-part Documentary; and a few Deleted Scenes. You could want for little more.
The Audio Commentary with Director Francis Lawrence and Producer Nina Jacobson might not be as engaging as one might hope for, but still offers up plenty of background detail into the production, as well as a few nice anecdotal titbits. It’s hard to absorb in one sitting – the two don’t provide a comprehensive accompaniment – but it still has some worthwhile moments.
Matching up to its US counterpart, Lionsgate deliver the same goods for their UK release.
Surviving the Game – Making The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is much more all-encompassing, although no less easy to swallow in one bite, not least because the nine-part setup runs at almost exactly the same length as the main film itself (and it’s not a short film), similarly almost hitting the two-and-a-half-hour mark. Still, it is utterly comprehensive, leaving no stone unturned, covering all of the bases, and charting the entire production process from start to finish with the utmost attention to detail. Excellent stuff.
The disc is rounded off by a few minutes of passable Deleted Scenes and a number of Preview Trailers.
Is The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Blu-ray Worth Buying
One of those rare sequels that improve upon the first film, Catching Fire is a tremendous second chapter in the Hunger Games saga, leaving us waiting with bated breath for the two-part conclusion.
This superb UK Region B-locked Blu-ray release comes complete with stunning video and audio and a comprehensive extras package. Fans could want for nothing more. Catching Fire comes highly recommended.
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